(Football news) Argentina have well and truly shaken off their defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match and will now take on Australia, who defeated Denmark, in the Round of 16 clash at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. Lionel Messi’s team overcame Mexico with a hard-fought victory and then overcame Poland 2-0 thanks to goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez to secure top spot of Group C. Both teams have had just a little over two days of rest, but expectations will be at an all time high for Argentina who will not be complacent against Australia.
In order to deal with the fatigue, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni could rotate his squad by bringing on Mac Allister, Alvarez and Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez. However, Lionel Messi remains irreplaceable for the South American side and will be responsible for most of the team’s creative output. A victory against Australia will mean that Argentina will take on either Netherlands or United States in the quarter-finals. The Socceroos have lost each of their last four matches against Argentina although they did secure a 2-0 victory at the Tokyo Olympics against the South American side but with two very different squads.
Australia reached the Round of 16 for the first time since 2006 and defied expectations by finishing in 2nd place (on goal difference) behind World Champions France in Group D. The Socceroos defeated both Tunisia and Denmark 1-0 but will be aware that a tough challenge awaits them and they will have to be at their very best to get any kind of result and reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
In team news for Argentina, Lisandro Martinez could be back in the team while Lyon’s Nicolas Tagliafico will hope to be picked over Marcos Acuna at left-back. Enzo Fernandez will hope to remain in the starting lineup instead of Leandro Paredes while Julian Alvarez is expected to feature alongside Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. As for Australia, Nathaniel Atkinson and Fran Karacic are competing with Milos Degenek for a place in the starting lineup. Keanu Baccus will feature alongside Aaron Mooy while Mitchell Duke will lead the line once again. All things considered, a victory for Argentina is the most likely result from this fixture.